To walk into the St. Helena Public Library, SC, is to become immersed in contradiction. On the one hand, it’s modern—a 21st-century library guided by a Maker space philosophy, complete with 3-D printers, an animator, recording studio, littleBits and Makey Makey kits, and more state-of-the-art technology. Seamlessly coexisting with this sleek newness is a down-home Southern warmth and natural, earthy simplicity, with architectural details that embrace links to a unique culture with connections to West Africa.
In a time when the mission of libraries is rapidly evolving, how can we craft buildings that not only endure but thrive when meeting new challenges? This question underlined the learning at LJ’s Design Institute (DI) held May 16 in Salt Lake City. Presenters and peers asked attendees to redefine how they thought about sustainability, exploring the idea in terms of conserving energy and being environmentally responsible and looking at the sustainability of a building holistically—from how comfortable patrons and employees are to how the space can change to support new ventures, some of which designers and librarians might not have imagined yet.
After completing a complicated four-plus-year construction project, the Golden State is seeking silver this time—a Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) Silver certification for its newly renovated Stanley Mosk Library and Courts Building, to be precise. The reopening celebration for the California State Library (CSL) was held in February and capped a remarkable collaborative effort led by California’s Department of General Services (DGS), landlords of the property.
Public libraries are busier and more popular with patrons than ever. Today’s library is a place for social interaction as well as quiet reading. It is a community cultural center, not simply a repository for books. It is a welcoming building with a design focus on transparency, not a series of isolated spaces. These changing operations directly affect the layout and organization of library buildings. So, libraries today must be designed to accommodate more simplified administrative operations and new staff functions.
Monterrey is the third largest city in Mexico and an urban area rich in history and culture. It is also home to Fundidora Park, a Museum of Industrial Archaeology created from a steel foundry established in 1900. The expansive park includes recreation areas, auditoriums, convention centers, theme parks, hotels, and museums, along with the historic industrial structures from the foundry (blast furnaces, chimneys, and more). On July 2, 2013, the complex added a library to the mix. The children’s library Niños Conarte provides a unique, interactive space to encourage reading and art education.
When it comes to thinking about lighting, two common misconceptions dominate library design. The first is that cutting energy consumption equals sustainability—it doesn’t. Then there’s the notion that everything in a library space should be equally lit, which in practice just means that lighting fails to draw attention to or emphasize any part of the space. Dashing these notions guided the lighting design during the renovation of Madison Public Library’s (MPL) Central Library, WI. The result is an architecturally integrated lighting system that helps to transform a decrepit 1965 building into a state-of-the-art facility, registered for Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification, with a highly flexible architectural interior and an operational lighting demand almost half of what is allowed by code.